Full Council is the most senior part of Camden Council and comprises all of Camden’s 54 councillors. It meets seven times a year. Sadly, because Camden has a Labour majority, it means that most of the major decisions are taken away from Full Council.
However, Full Council does give the opportunity to members to raise vital points on behalf of constituents, which constituents ask me to do regularly. With 54 councillors, only a minority of councillors get to speak even once in each meeting, and we often don’t get to motions or questions that I have tabled.
I’ve listed below all the occasions on which I have voted, spoken, or was slated to speak in Full Council. They are denoted (V) for votes, (R) for questions on reports, (D) for questions to deputations, (Q) for questions to Cabinet members, (O) for speeches in open session, (M) for motions, (A) for amendments to motions, and (T) for tributes to the deceased. An asterisk (*) denotes that the tabled question or motion wasn’t heard.
8 July 2019
- I paid tribute to Martin Morton, the most recent Conservative to lead Camden Council (1970-71): noting not just his achievements as a councillor and as Leader, but the support he gave me in understanding long-term issues affecting the borough and his humble and self-effacing approach.
- I was not called in the themed debate on supporting and championing Camden’s LGBT community, but I wanted to pay tribute to a number of organisations, and note that NHS England had just committed to expanding the trial of PrEP, after we sent a cross-party letter at my instigation after the last themed debate. I would further have called for specific action on ensuring effective and inclusive sex and relationship education is delivered. (T*)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition praising the work of the LGBT community bodies, blundering through the sign language version of “We Make Camden Proud” that we had been taught on the Pride march, noting my pride in England’s women’s football team in reaching the semi-finals (but disappointment that none lived in the borough, unlike the men’s), and further noted the Council’s manifold failings on housing, including having the most empty council houses of any local authority: in great part due to CIP. I was astonished that the Leader had not heard that statistic before – surely you don’t just forget owning 890 empty homes?
- I had wanted to speak on the Council’s response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s draft recommendations, and note my disappointment that the administration did not allow any input from other councillors in formulating its response, but rather presented it as a fait accompli to the Audit Committee a few days previously. I had objected to it then due to its clear unfairness and because of several errors. (R)
- I forced a recorded vote on the Council’s response to the ward boundaries, and voted against the proposals (V).
- In response to the Cabinet member’s follow-up to April’s themed debate on health inequalities, I noted that the Government had, on Friday, announced that it was offering any local authority the power to request more places on the PrEP trial and would integrate it into routine commissioning from next year. This was partly in response to the cross-party letter I instigated at the previous themed debate. The Cabinet member appeared not to be aware of this announcement, and I asked the Cabinet member to request more places, which will save lives. I further noted my disappointment that the Cabinet member had claimed the low vaccine take-up rates I criticised in April’s debate was due to poor reporting, when it is clearly because of poor education by the council – and so asked that more action be taken to inform parents.
- I abstained on the Labour motion for the council to oppose Brexit. This is in-keeping with Camden Conservatives’ policy of not endorsing the use of council meetings, officers’ time, and taxpayers’ money to lobby national government (we thus always abstain on such issues). (V)
7 October 2019
- I spoke on the themed debate on the climate crisis by noting that Camden was only rated as the top Inner London borough for climate change because Hampstead Heath’s trees. Without the work of residents 153 years ago to save Hampstead Heath, Camden would actually have been fourth, not first – and I thus implored people to think of the consequences of their actions 153 years hence. (T)
- I seconded a cross-party motion declaring a climate emergency. In seconding it, I paid tribute to Tories for Climate Action, noted the UK had decarbonised its economy more than any other since 2010, called Margaret Thatcher the world’s first green Prime Minister because of her speech to the UN General Assembly that woke up the world, and called for more action of the sort we’ve seen in the last decade. (M)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition noting that we needed tougher action as well as a public health approach to knife crime – and noted that our motion later in the meeting would help achieve that. I also then said the administration couldn’t show lip service to listening to communities, as it had in Camley Street, and had to listen to all of them, not just those that the administration wanted to. (S)
- I had been scheduled to ask the Leader of the Council about HS2, but was not called. (Q*)
- I spoke strongly against the administration’s proposal to increase pay for Cabinet members by 54%. Two excuses were given. The cost of living had increased by 27% since 2010, and this increase was required to keep up with it – but this is obviously nonsense, as 54% is far above 27% or above the 11% that council staff had received. The other was that Cabinet members are overworked – which I noted was a silly argument, because they had the power to disperse power throughout the council by going back to the Committee system or adopting Area Committees, but they opposed both (R).
- I forced a recorded vote on the increases in councillor allowances so members of the public could see how each councillor voted. Labour tried to stop this recorded vote – in part because a dozen of their councillors had marched out in protest – but it went ahead anyway. All Conservatives voted against the increases – but all Labour and Lib Dem councillors present voted for it, so they went through. (V).
- I noted my disappointment with the significant increase in the threshold required to force Camden Council to receive an ordinary petition. Previously, the threshold was far too low – allowing anyone with ten signatures to bring any issue to the Council Chamber, even if the intention was solely to disrupt the Council. However, the threshold is now 4,000: far too high. I said no petitions would be received under this scheme, so to use it as a ‘watch and see’ temporary provision would be silly – as we already know the outcome. A threshold of 200-400 would have been far better. (R)
- I seconded a Conservative motion introducing a smart CCTV library, which would allow local schools, housing estates, businesses, and families with CCTV to store their footage in Camden’s CCTV library for a small fee. This would make it easier for the police to access footage, reduce the cost of maintaining a CCTV system, and improve data protection by ensuring it’s always accessed by a trained staff member. This was amended slightly by Labour, but otherwise adopted. (M)
- I was disappointed we didn’t get to the motion supporting Nazanin Zagharai-Ratcliffe. Before the Conservative motion, I called for the two motions to both be heard, as they had cross-party support, and this was agreed. However, before the Nazanin one, the Mayor ended the meeting. I would have voted for the motion. (M*)
16 July 2018
- I paid tribute to Frank Dobson, who passed away last week. Frank was the Leader of the Council from 1973 to 1975 and one of the borough’s MPs from 1979 to 2015. I recalled a story of our first meeting, when I was dragged in at short notice to debate him when a student at UCL. (T)
- In response to a deputation to the council by Chalcots residents about the £76m works contract for the towers, I noted my deep concern at the way residents have been treated. I noted that there were near-unanimous opposition to the decisions made by Camden Council in a recent survey, and that the outcomes of this were being ignored. (D)
- I gave my speech as Leader of the Opposition noting that the Council was ignoring its duties by cancelling its debate on Camden’s abysmal school standards. The claim was this was done because of purdah, but this only prevents publicising views on national policy during election periods – not discussing local issues that might embarrass the administration. Sadly, the borough being Labour run made a decision that helped Labour – while allowing a later debate that concerned nothing BUT national policy. (S)
- I had been scheduled to ask the Leader of the Council about HS2, but was not called. This is the second meeting in a row that had happened. I wonder what the administration is trying to hide… (Q*)
- I noted my support for the council leaving the Treasury Management Strategy unchanged, especially not to buy commercial assets, as other councils have. I noted that the new £50m funds limits for ultra short dated debt was actually a limitation (not a liberalisation, as some had suggested), as the general threshold for funds is £100m. (R)
- I seconded an amendment to the Lib Dem motion calling for a review into how Camden can lawfully divest from fossil fuel companies. The Conservative group supports this in principle, but the Lib Dem motion did not refer at all to reviewing what this might cost our pension fund. Given the fund is in deficit, any costs would have to be borne by Camden’s general fund, and so come out of funding available to reduce emissions directly. As such, our amendment required the commissioning of a report into how much the financial cost would be, to see if there’s a better way to reduce CO2 emission. (M).
- I proposed an amendment to Labour’s motion demanding that Camden stop receiving block grants from the government. I noted that Camden received the third-most of any council in the country and had among the worst service outcomes. This shows that Camden cannot blame the appalling quality of services in Camden – which Labour admitted to – on anyone else, as every other council in the country does better. Sadly, Labour didn’t accept any responsibility, despite literally having voted themselves a 54% pay increase last month. (M)
- I was disappointed that we didn’t reach the motion, which I was due to propose, which would have increased recycling rates in Camden by using technology. The proposal would have introduced an app – or ‘skill’ – on Amazon Alexa that allows people to ask Alexa what they can and can’t recycle. This is because Camden has plummeting recycling rates and among the highest contamination rates in the country – which is due to Camden not informing residents what can and can’t be recycled. Labour unlawfully suspended standing orders to get 20 extra minutes of political posturing in beforehand, but refused to even allow 1 minute for this constructive local motion: proving how uninterested Labour are in local issues. (M*)